5 modern era teams that would've been dangerous 12-seeds in expanded College Football Playoff

Streeter Lecka/GettyImages
3 of 6

4. 1993 Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2/3rd in Big Ten)

A year before Penn State ran the table and won its first Big Ten championship in 1994, the Nittany Lions were the third-best team in a deep Big Ten. Joe Paterno's squad suffered a two-game midseason swoon where they dropped consecutive contests to Michigan and Ohio State, but crushed every other opponent by an average of 20 points per game.

While the offense had yet to ramp up to the otherworldly levels of production they generated in 1994, Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter still led the way for a 1993 squad that still boasted one of the nation's 10 best offenses. And the defense was actually stingier than the 1994 vintage, allowing 2.5 fewer points per game. While the Nittany Lions weren't the class of the Big Ten in their first season as a conference member, they were nevertheless right behind Ohio State and Wisconsin in the pecking order.

Waiting in the first round for Penn State would have been a trip to South Bend to face off against independent Notre Dame under the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. A year earlier, on the same turf, Penn State lost 17-16 to their hosts. This time around, with teams well-matched across both sides of the ball, Paterno's crew would have boasted a great shot to advance as the underdog. Had they moved on from the opening round, a date with Southwest Conference champion Texas A&M would await.